‘I told you someone would get killed’ – Christchurch man angry after complaints about social housing problems ‘fell on deaf ears’

A man living near the community housing complex where ex-Mongrel Mob member Kenneth Daniel Hawkins was allegedly murdered at the weekend says he has been begging authorities to address anti-social activity in the area for years saying it was only a matter of time until someone was killed.

He is now furious that his cry for help was ignored and says he is considering ditching his private tenancy to live in his car, which he feels would be safer.

He has no issue with people who live in social housing but says they are being “dumped” in units with no support for issues including drug addiction and serious mental health problems.

The man lives in Sydenham near several housing complexes run by various social housing agencies.

He told the Herald he had been complaining for years but felt no one was taking him seriously.

On March 31, at his wits’ end and, after the sixth police callout to his street in a week, he turned to Housing Minister Megan Woods.

In a letter sent at 3am he outlined “threatening, violent, anti social behaviour” by social housing tenants at multiple complexes.

He accused social housing providers across the board of a “lack of duty of care” – to their tenants and the community.

He sent the letter to the Herald an hour later, and followed up again yesterday after he heard of Hawkins’ death.

The 50-year-old was allegedly murdered at his unit at the Otautahi Community Housing Trust Development on Brougham St.

A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and is accused of fatally stabbing Hawkins, who was on electronically monitored bail and facing family violence charges relating to his partner.

“I told you someone would get hurt or killed,” the concerned resident said yesterday.

“Nobody listened to me.”

Woods was on leave this week but a spokeswoman from her office confirmed the man’s letter had been “received and a response is being processed”.

In the letter the man – who asked that his name was not published for “fear of retaliation” – said he was writing “out of desperation” as his “last resort for help”.

“I am a rental tenant, with glowing rental and character references, living next to a very anti-social bunch of social housing tenants,” he wrote.

“I wish to raise your awareness. Social housing providers do not seem to be helping in any way at all.”

He said he had been complaining about issues with his neighbours including “the gangs, the drug dealings, the anti-social, violent and threatening behaviour which now seems to be escalating”.

“Yet nobody, not even police, seem to do anything about it,” he said.

“In just the past week alone, I have had my front door kicked in twice with threats of having my home burned down.

“I have had people intruding on my property; last night my property was attacked with an axe to which police responded with rifles drawn.

“I have had motorcycle gang members terrorising myself and the neighbourhood. My complaints to social housing providers fall on complete deaf ears.”

He turned to Woods for help, hopeful that she would step in.

He questioned why people on electronic bail for violent offending – like Hawkins – convicted criminals, gang members and people with addiction or mental health issues were simply “shoved in a cage of apartments, left to terrorise the neighbourhood”.

He felt there was not enough support or supervision of the tenants.

“I have been left in constant fear of my life and my property,” he said.

“I am now about to cancel my agreement with this property to live in my car until I can find a more suitable property to live.”

In the letter he quoted six police callouts from the week with file reference numbers.

He felt authorities were “turning a blind eye” and implored Woods to act.

Woods’ spokeswoman acknowledged Hawkins’ death.

“Our sympathies go out to the victim’s friends and family, and the local community,” she said.

“The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Kāinga Ora and community housing providers are committed to ensuring that public housing tenants have a safe, warm and dry place to call home.”

She said the Community Housing Regulatory Authoritymonitored all community housing provider policies and processes and expected to see “consistent compliance with the required performance standards -which requiredsystems that “ensure outcomes for tenants are appropriate, measurable, and monitored”.

Those systems included a complaints service.

“If a tenant is unsatisfied with the way their complaint has been handled, they can contact Tenancy Services in the first instance,” she said.

The man felt his complaints had been effectively ignored -and he urged Woods to do more, urgently.

“Providers have been using Sydenham as a dumping ground for problematic people for over three years now, which has turned this area into an area on edge,” he said.

“Now we have social issues growing and growing, tearing our neighbourhoods to shreds.

“More needs to be done. My complaint is not about the tenants themselves, but more about the social agencies who put them in these situations.”

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